Cowper, William Cowper, 1st Earl, 1664?–1723, English jurist. He became lord keeper of the great seal in 1705 and in 1706 took a leading part in negotiating the union of England with Scotland. He was the first lord chancellor of Great Britain (1707–10), and presided at the trial of Henry Sacheverell, though he disapproved the action. He was forced out of office with the Whigs in 1710. Cowper wrote (1714) a tract on political parties to convince George I that the Whigs alone were loyal to the Glorious Revolution and the Act of Settlement. He was lord chancellor again (1714–18) and contributed much to the modern system of equity.
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